FLAIR: Wide umbrella of literacy program
and its impacts addressed at GMSP!

December 10, 1999
Santa Paula News
FLAIR has a wide umbrella of vital literacy programs, the Good Morning Santa Paula! audience learned at the November meeting. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored event, held at Logsdon’s at Santa Paula Airport, was hosted by Santa Clara Valley Bank. FLAIR Literacy Services Coordinator Elaine Hunt said the program includes adult literacy, families for literacy, a parenting program, classes for those tackling the English language, a computer lab, tutoring Angels and a new homework center. In addition, FLAIR is community partners with the Santa Paula Youth Services Alliance, Santa Paula Elementary School District and CalWorks.Spreading awareness of FLAIR is something Hunt said she “would go anywhere” to discuss; she started with the program about a decade ago as a tutor, found that program was threatened by a lack of funding, and embarked on an aggressive grant writing effort. “Blanchard Community Library was running on its rims,” but Carl Barringer got former Rep. Bob Lagomarsino involved in the effort to save FLAIR. . .a grant from the U.S. Department of Education followed.Additional grants helped the program to expand offering more adults the chance to learn to read and write English to “better their quality of life.”In 1990 the Family Literacy program was launched to encourage parents to work with their children on school work, even if it meant they first must sharpen their own literacy skills to be able to better read to their children.“The children do handicrafts related to the books their parents are learning. . .we also give them free books to start their own library,” Hunt noted.
FLAIR has also partnered with the Santa Paula Family Resource Center and offers a parenting class for those who have been incarcerated, offers two levels of ESL classes that offer students one-on-one tutoring when they become proficient in English, a computer lab and the Angels program that matches tutors to students at area SPESD schools. “This mentor program has really been successful,” Hunt noted, and presently there are 20 students matched with Angels.A homework center at BCL has been funded through grants and gifts and now has a part time employee to work with students.Funding is an ongoing effort, and every $4.37 raised by FLAIR earns another $1 from the state.FLAIR is vitally needed in the river valley, said Hunt, who noted past statistics comparing Santa Paula to Moorpark. Santa Paula has a much higher poverty level, housing overcrowding, high school drop out and college enrollment rates, she added. “Education makes the difference,” and helps everyone when people are better educated. “It’s good for the local economy because when people are better educated they get better jobs and have more disposable income. Having an educated work force brings in more employers. We have employers referring employees they like and want to promote but who need more language and writing skills to our programs. . .education does make a difference.”

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